If you were told today dear reader that you had 90 days left to live, what would you do? Would you start by making a bucket list? Or maybe jet off around the world to taste a variety of culture and life? It’s a difficult predicament to be placed in. Your natural survival instinct kicks in and you want to fight, to live. But unfortunately life has other plans for you…
Today I am on the blog tour for Death & Other Happy Endings (Published 13 Jun. 2019) By Melanie Cantor. A big thank you to the publishers Bantam Press for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. And to the amazing Anne for the invite, you’re a real credit to the this wonderful community.
About The Author
Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes.
In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign.
She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.
Death & Other Happy Endings
Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid.
Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.
At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you …
Wow dear reader, this book has ruined me. My heart ached when Jennifer was told she only had 3 months left to live. To watch her morbidly counting down the days on a calendar destroyed me. A bleak realisation of how short life is, that we all should live every day as if it’s our last. Just WOW!
“The leaves that cling to the branches of the trees for their final moments are all manner of gold and red and orange under the low sun. It’s the most beautiful intense day. I feel as though I’m seeing the world through new eyes; appreciating the true glory of colour before it fades to grey and mulch to make way for spring and new life.”
Regret is a dominant theme throughout the book and Cantor challenges the reader, asking them what would they do if there weren’t any consequences. Would they have eaten that extra slice of cake or do that charity bungie jump they keep putting off? It’s a thought provoking read and brings into perspective how fleeting life is making you want to take those risks and live life to the fullest.
I LOVED the idea of Jennifer writing the letters and being honest about her feelings, genius story telling. It was more personal (everything is e-mail these days) and fitted with her personality. Plus once she had sent them, she couldn’t back out. It was therapeutic to read, to see the tension and stress slowly leave Jennifer’s shoulders as she realised she should speak her mind and be more direct. She is a strong character that has always gone down the safe path. It was refreshing to see her evolve and become more assertive and spontaneous. We witness the fight in her, it’s empowering and a triumph to read. It leaves you fist pumping the air shouting “YES! YOU GO GIRL! WOOOOO”
“And then I remind myself. I am dying.
So I get a grip and push the letters into the red slit of mouth.
And finally, with a flourish, I let them go.
It feels scary. My heart skips a beat, wishing I could climb in and retrieve them, but I turn around and walk back home.
I did it! I actually did it. And I feel brave.”
Cantor has a natural skill for sprinkling a dash of humour over the most depressing of situations and it works magnificently. It shows the reader that you’ve got to laugh at the unfortunate perils in life and not let it drag you down. Jennifer focuses on the positives such as never getting old and not losing her teeth. She refuses to let death become her. Her stubbornness is commendable and reminded me of myself. I can be extremely stubborn, just ask my husband.
“For the first time I’m properly angry. Angry at myself. Angry that I never went after what I wanted when I had the opportunity. For thinking that I was being good and kind and non-confrontational when all I was being was a considerate coward. I’m angry that I’ve come too late to the party. That I’ve only now learnt to accept that I’m loved. And that I am worthy of it. And that’s the most beautiful and painful realization of all.”
The plot is a constant flow of unexpected twists and turns that lulls you into a false sense of security. Just as you find yourself on a steady course, Cantor stirs the water, diverting your little dingy boat towards the death defying rapids that force you to suddenly swerve and near-miss the jagged rocks. You breathe a sigh of relief and then you see it…the waterfall up ahead. It works well in the narrative, everything is written with a purpose that will slot cleverly into place. It was enjoyable to read as you never gave up hope that maybe, just maybe your journey would calm and gently float you to safety. That beacon of hope never disappeared and it was inspiring to hold onto.
The ending…I won’t spoil it for you, lets just say it left me flabbergasted. Love that word. It’s better you find out for yourself dear reader, enjoy.
I give Death & Other Happy Endings a Five out of Five paw rating.
I laughed, I cried and I cried some more. A truly powerful story of a remarkable woman fighting against the injustices the world cruelly serves her. Cantor spins a tragic and heartwarming story that embraces the reader in it’s loving arms and offers a shoulder to cry on over hot chocolate and marshmallows. It’s cosy and you feel connected to the characters, the story, you treat them as old friends and welcome them into your home. Once your journey has ended you are sad but a good sad. You feel content and at right with the world.
If there’s one thing I have learned from this reading experience, it’s that life is far too ridiculously short. Live and be true to yourself. Never feel ashamed of who you are and stand up for what you believe in. It’s never too late to start living. Take that holiday, learn the piano, do the things that make you happy and treat each day as a gift, a present.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below.
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